SOURCE: The Bedford Report

The Bedford Report

December 22, 2010 08:46 ET

Regional Banking Sector Becomes a Hotbed of Merger and Acquisition Speculation

The Bedford Report Provides Analyst Research on Regions Financial & First Horizon

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - December 22, 2010) - Canada's fourth largest bank, Bank of Montreal, made headlines last Friday when the company announced it was buying the Wisconsin lender Marshall & Ilsley (M&I) Corporation for $4.1 billion -- a 34 percent premium to M&I's closing price last Thursday -- in an all-stock deal. Bank of Montreal says the deal adds to its position in the U.S. Midwest and more than doubles the branch network it runs through its Chicago-based Harris Bank unit. The BMO/M&I deal sparked speculation that other strong banks will begin shopping for cheap US Regional banks. The Bedford Report examines the outlook for companies in the Regional Banking Sector and provides research reports on Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE: RF) and First Horizon National Corporation (NYSE: FHN). Access to the full company reports can be found at:

www.bedfordreport.com/2010-12-RF

www.bedfordreport.com/2010-12-FHN

Last week, shares of Regions Financial surged following a report from the South Florida Business Journal claiming that PNC could be looking to expand in Florida and are currently in "due diligence" with Regions. The South Florida cited anonymous sources in the banking industry.

The Bedford Report releases regular market updates on the Regional Banking Sector so investors can stay ahead of the crowd and make the best investment decisions to maximize their returns. Take a few minutes to register with us free at www.bedfordreport.com and get exclusive access to our numerous analyst reports and industry newsletters.

Regional Banks have begun to post improving credit quality. More thorough and cautious credit checks have led to fewer delinquent loans and greater financial stability. As such, Banks are setting aside less money to cover bad loans, and some are seeing loan losses recede. While credit quality improved, the high unemployment rate has been damaging to banks' long term loan growth. Improved employment numbers will hopefully, in time, lead to a boost in loan growth across the banking sector.

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